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It seems that entry to House common rooms is through audibly validating a password with whoever guards the door.

Is this the case for all Houses?

If so, would it be easy for someone to conceal themselves around the entrance to the common room and gain entry to said room by overhearing the password, even if only until the password is again changed?

I guess you might ask why would a student want to enter another House's common room (maybe to impersonate someone via Polyjuice Potion and obtain secrets) in their day-to-day lives at Hogwarts, which is true. But, how is it not more rampant? Are there other protections in place?

  • The ravenclaw common room has no password, just a riddle. – Valorum Oct 25 '15 at 17:36
  • So, could anyone answer the riddle? – atw Oct 25 '15 at 17:40
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    Apparently so. Professor McGonagall (a Gryffindor) gets in easily, simply by working out the riddle. – Valorum Oct 25 '15 at 17:45
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    @Richard A Gryffindor, yes, but also a Hatstall and near-Ravenclaw! – Rand al'Thor Oct 25 '15 at 17:46
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TL;DR: just read this paragraph from the school rules:

Students may not enter the common rooms or dormitories of houses other than their own. Each common room has a protective measure in place to restrict access. The Gryffindor Tower and Slytherin Dungeon require passwords. Ravenclaw Tower requires the answer to a riddle. The Hufflepuff Basement requires tapping a specific barrel in a particular rhythm. Attempts to bypass these protective measures by members of other houses are considered serious offences.


Now, taking your questions in order...

  • It seems that entry to House common rooms is through audibly validating a password with whoever guards the door.

    Is this the case for all Houses?

    No.

    • Access to the Hufflepuff common room is, as seen in this answer, by tapping a barrel:

    the entrance to the common room is concealed in a stack of large barrels in a nook on the right hand side of the kitchen corridor. Tap the barrel two from the bottom, middle of the second row, in the rhythm of ‘Helga Hufflepuff’, and the lid will swing open.

    • Access to the Ravenclaw common room, as described here, is by correctly solving a riddle. Examples listed here include:

    Q: Which came first, the phoenix or the flame?
    A: A circle has no beginning.

    and:

    Q: Where do Vanished objects go?
    A: Into nonbeing, which is to say, everything.

  • If so, would it be easy for someone to conceal themselves around the entrance to the common room and gain entry to said room by overhearing the password, even if only until the password is again changed?

    Yes.

    It's possible for someone not technically authorised to enter common rooms to get in if they know the password. For instance, Sirius Black entering the Gryffindor common room after stealing Neville's list of passwords in PoA, or Harry and Ron entering the Slytherin common room while Polyjuice-disguised as Crabbe and Goyle in CoS. Naturally, hiding outside the common room and overhearing someone else going in would be another way to gain access illicitly.

  • I guess you might ask why would a student want to enter another House's common room (maybe to impersonate someone via Polyjuice Potion and obtain secrets) in their day-to-day lives at Hogwarts, which is true. But, how is it not more rampant? Are there other protections in place?

    There are school rules banning such actions. Harry and Ron were breaking these rules by their entry into the Slytherin common room in CoS - but as we know, Harry, Ron, and Hermione have a great tendency to break school rules and get away with it! More specifically, see this rule again:

    Students may not enter the common rooms or dormitories of houses other than their own. [...] Attempts to bypass these protective measures by members of other houses are considered serious offences.

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    Not just the Houses used such methods, but also the entrance to the Headmaster's quarters. Dumbledore, for instance, used passwords that were generally candy names, IIRC. – user31178 Oct 25 '15 at 18:11
  • I know. But it's just further supporting evidence of how things work at Hogwarts. – user31178 Oct 25 '15 at 23:02

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